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Field Guides Tour Report
Belize 2013
Feb 7, 2013 to Feb 23, 2013
Peter Burke & John Coons

Is there a better place than Crooked Tree to see the scarce and elusive Agami Heron? This is one of 4 of these dagger-billed beauties that we saw there. (Photo by guide Peter Burke)

NOTE: Due to scheduling considerations, please be advised that our 2014 itinerary will visit Lamanai Outpost Lodge and Hidden Valley Inn instead of the route we followed on our 2013 tour as reflected in the triplist below. Lamanai and Hidden Valley provide similary exciting and productive birding, and we expect the cross section of species seen on our 2014 tour to overlap in all important respects with what is reported below (for example, the waterbirds possible at Lamanai are very similar to those at Crooked Tree). We look forward to seeing you in Belize!

When the winter doldrums are setting in and spring seems to be an age away, what better than a trip south to look at birds? Belize offers such a great diversity and is within 2 hours flight of the US, so you can't go wrong! Our trip began at the village of Crooked Tree, where the abundance and diversity of waterbirds provided us with non-stop action - from the egrets, herons, storks, and ibises wading along its shores, to the lazy flypasts of Snail Kites and Lesser Yellow-headed Vultures. And how about those Agami Herons and Jabirus?!! When the waterbirds gave us our fill, we turned to the forests and pasturelands and we were kept just as busy with a plethora of warblers, vireos, tanagers, orioles, hummingbirds, flycatchers... the list goes on. Needless to say, we all thrilled at the views of Gray-throated Chat, Yucatan Woodpecker, and Yellow-headed Parrots, plus other specialties of this part of Belize. Our hosts, the folks at Bird's Eye View Lodge, including guides Michael and Rudy, were simply outstanding as well.

The same could be said for Blackrock Lodge, our second destination in the western highlands. Surrounded by the high cliff faces along the Macul River, we settled in and kept up the pace of adding new birds daily. The comfortable dining area provided super viewing of an assortment of birds visiting the feeding trays or soaring high above the forest. During the days that we birded around the lodge or visited the nearby sites of El Pilar and Rio Frio Caves, our birding sampled a super diversity of humid, broad-leafed forest and highland Caribbean Pine forest birds. From White Hawks and King Vultures to Brown-winged Schiffornis and Golden-crowned Warblers, we tallied a large number of species here. Of course there were highlights - an Orange-breasted Falcon perched near its nesting site; pairs of Rufous-tailed Jacamars and Emerald Toucanets scolding us while we watched in the telescopes, a White-whiskered Puffbird sitting quietly in the understory, and a couple of Tody Motmots that came in wonderfully close. We're sure you all have your own special recollections as well.

We both enjoyed our experiences leading this tour and we hope the memories and photos you have from it last you... until our next trip together! Hope to see you soon.

--Peter and John

One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
BLACK-BELLIED WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna autumnalis) – A couple of groups at Crooked Tree.
FULVOUS WHISTLING-DUCK (Dendrocygna bicolor) – Known to occur at Crooked Tree but otherwise an uncommon bird in Belize; unknown prior to 1986.
MUSCOVY DUCK (Cairina moschata) – An apparent female on a pond with Whistling Ducks on the outskirts of the village of Crooked Tree was a nice surprise.
AMERICAN WIGEON (Anas americana) – Peter saw a small group of 6 on Crooked Tree our first night as we settled in. This is near the southern limit of their wintering grounds and are thus uncommon in Belize.
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Anas discors) – Good numbers of birds at Crooked Tree.
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris) – As many as 60 birds were on the lagoon at Crooked Tree, in groups spread along its length. These are high numbers for an uncommon bird in Belize.
Cracidae (Guans, Chachalacas, and Curassows)
PLAIN CHACHALACA (Ortalis vetula) – Several heard and a small group along the roadside at Monkey Bay.
Podicipedidae (Grebes)
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps) – Good numbers at Crooked Tree.
Ciconiidae (Storks)
JABIRU (Jabiru mycteria) – We saw at least 6 of these fantastic storks at Crooked Tree, including a high soaring bird our last evening.
WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana) – Very common at Crooked Tree and a few en route to Blackrock.
Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) – Beth and Charlotte spotted a high flying bird at Crooked Tree.
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
NEOTROPIC CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax brasilianus) – Abundant at Crooked Tree and a few at scattered other locations.
Anhingidae (Anhingas)
ANHINGA (Anhinga anhinga) – Small numbers at Crooked Tree.
Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) – A flock of 8 at Crooked Tree; unknown in Belize before 1981 this species has become more frequent since then.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
BARE-THROATED TIGER-HERON (Tigrisoma mexicanum) – A couple of birds at Crooked Tree - one of our 'target' species during the boat trip! Nice views of one perched up along the river bank.
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias) – Common at Crooked Tree, these are mainly wintering birds.
GREAT EGRET (Ardea alba) – Common at Crooked Tree and widespread.
SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula) – Common at Crooked Tree and a few along the road en route to Blackrock.
LITTLE BLUE HERON (Egretta caerulea) – Good numbers of adults at Crooked Tree.
TRICOLORED HERON (Egretta tricolor) – Some nice views of this heron at Crooked Tree.

Snail Kites, like this female, were a common sight over the lagoon at Crooked Tree, where they feast on the abundant apple snails there. (Photo by guide Peter Burke)

CATTLE EGRET (Bubulcus ibis) – Widespread throughout the tour.
GREEN HERON (Butorides virescens) – A number of sightings at Crooked Tree and in the western part of the trip.
AGAMI HERON (Agamia agami) – WOW!! What a great bird; we enjoyed at least 4 birds in the creek below Crooked Tree lagoon. Although we had to work for them, we all managed to see this spectacular heron which is one of the most elusive of its family in the Americas.
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax) – A handful of birds at Crooked Tree.
YELLOW-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nyctanassa violacea) – One foraging along the shore our first night at Crooked Tree in the dark by Philip.
BOAT-BILLED HERON (Cochlearius cochlearius) – These nocturnal herons were found in a couple of spots along the creek, roosting in streamside vegetation.
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE IBIS (Eudocimus albus) – Good numbers at Crooked Tree.
GLOSSY IBIS (Plegadis falcinellus) – Up to 10 birds at Crooked Tree. This is another increasing, wintering species in Belize.
ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja) – Crooked Tree offered us some close views during our boat trip.
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
BLACK VULTURE (Coragyps atratus) – Widespread and common.
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura) – Widespread and more common than the following species.
LESSER YELLOW-HEADED VULTURE (Cathartes burrovianus) – We saw this species regularly in the pine savannah en route to and around Crooked Tree. Several good looks at this beautifullly colored vulture.
KING VULTURE (Sarcoramphus papa) – A couple of birds most days while we stayed at Blackrock, including some pretty close views of soaring birds.
Pandionidae (Osprey)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus) – Common at Crooked Tree and a few at Blackrock that were all moving northwards at a high altitude -possibly migrants.
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
WHITE-TAILED KITE (Elanus leucurus) – One flying bird en route to Blackrock from Crooked Tree.
SWALLOW-TAILED KITE (Elanoides forficatus) – A high flying bird at the Rio Frio caves seen by part of the group.
BLACK HAWK-EAGLE (Spizaetus tyrannus) – One soaring and calling over the dining area during lunch break at Blackrock.
BLACK-COLLARED HAWK (Busarellus nigricollis) – A perched bird along the creek at Crooked Tree.
SNAIL KITE (Rostrhamus sociabilis) – Common at Crooked Tree, allowing great views. The strewn shells of Apple Snails were littered all along the shoreline, victims of these abundant raptors.
DOUBLE-TOOTHED KITE (Harpagus bidentatus) – A high soaring bird over the ridge at Blackrock one afternoon.
PLUMBEOUS KITE (Ictinia plumbea) – Two birds, both recently arrived spring migrants at Monkey Bay and on the Mountain Pine Ridge (MPR).
COMMON BLACK-HAWK (Buteogallus anthracinus) – A couple of perched birds along the Crooked Tree lagoon.
GREAT BLACK-HAWK (Buteogallus urubitinga) – A pair soaring high at Blackrock offered us good views to compare structural field marks to separate from Common Black-Hawk.
ROADSIDE HAWK (Rupornis magnirostris) – Scattered sighting throughout the trip.
WHITE-TAILED HAWK (Geranoaetus albicaudatus) – Peter spotted two high flying birds before we headed into Cheers for lunch on our transfer day. Most of the group was busy with a washroom stop however...
WHITE HAWK (Pseudastur albicollis) – Fantastic views of a pair flying at Blackrock. They had recently been seen by the staff 'getting ready to start a family'.
GRAY HAWK (Buteo plagiatus) – A couple of birds, including one very well spotted by Colin during our day trips from Blackrock.
SHORT-TAILED HAWK (Buteo brachyurus) – A dark-morph bird soaring high over the ridge at Blackrock.
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
GRAY-NECKED WOOD-RAIL (Aramides cajaneus) – Several excellent views of this colorful rail at Crooked Tree.
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana) – Hundreds wintering on Crooked Tree lagoon.
Heliornithidae (Finfoots)

A happy gang of birders poses amidst the lush tropical gardens at Blackrock Lodge. (Photo by guide Peter Burke)

SUNGREBE (Heliornis fulica) – Score! A rather cooperative bird along the creek during out boat ride, offered some stellar views of what is normally a reclusive, shy species.
Aramidae (Limpkin)
LIMPKIN (Aramus guarauna) – Abundant at Crooked Tree; this was the other bird responsible for the Apple Snail carnage along the shoreline. Their weird piercing cries were often heard during the mornings.
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus) – A couple of birds at Crooked Tree.
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus) – A small number in the lagoon at Crooked Tree.
Jacanidae (Jacanas)
NORTHERN JACANA (Jacana spinosa) – Abundant at Crooked Tree and a few in the San Ignacio area.
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius) – Several at Crooked Tree and one along the river at Blackrock.
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria) – We saw a few around Crooked Tree and a pair on the road into Blackrock.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan) – This bird was a complete surprise; it is normally found in the Pacific Ocean at this time of year, wintering off of Peru and Chile! A single adult, nearing the completion of its prealternate molt was on the Crooked Tree lagoon feeding with Gull-billed and Caspian Terns.
GULL-BILLED TERN (Gelochelidon nilotica) – Good numbers on Crooked Tree lagoon during our boat ride.
CASPIAN TERN (Hydroprogne caspia) – Even more abundant than Gull-billed Terns on Crooked Tree lagoon.
ROYAL TERN (Thalasseus maximus) – A single bird with Caspians and Gull-billeds on Crooked Tree lagoon.
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) – Flocks in San Ignacio.
PALE-VENTED PIGEON (Patagioenas cayennensis) – A couple of perched birds sat for us in Crooked Tree, and we heard their mournful calls there as well. We also had a few birds at Blackrock, mainly calling.
SCALED PIGEON (Patagioenas speciosa) – Peter heard a single bird at the entrance to El Pilar before we got onto the trails. [*]
RED-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas flavirostris) – On the road into El Pilar we observed several perched birds along the roadside in treetops.
SHORT-BILLED PIGEON (Patagioenas nigrirostris) – John pointed out a singing bird at Rio Frio before we got onto the trails. [*]
COMMON GROUND-DOVE (Columbina passerina) – At the Pine Forest in Crooked Tree, John found a pair along the sandy track that offered some nice scope views.
RUDDY GROUND-DOVE (Columbina talpacoti) – Common at Crooked Tree and often flushed off the road in pastureland throughout the trip.
WHITE-TIPPED DOVE (Leptotila verreauxi) – One bird frequented the cabin area at Blackrock and we heard them singing at Rio Frio and El Pilar.
GRAY-CHESTED DOVE (Leptotila cassini) – A singing bird at Blackrock was heard during our walk along the entrance road. [*]
Cuculidae (Cuckoos)
SQUIRREL CUCKOO (Piaya cayana) – We saw several of these birds at roadside during our time at Blackrock.
GROOVE-BILLED ANI (Crotophaga sulcirostris) – Seen throughout the trip in agricultural areas, often flushed at roadside as we drove. A couple good looks at Crooked Tree of perched birds.
Caprimulgidae (Nightjars and Allies)
COMMON PAURAQUE (Nyctidromus albicollis) – Excellent views at Crooked Tree and at Blackrock during our evening strolls.
Apodidae (Swifts)
WHITE-COLLARED SWIFT (Streptoprocne zonaris) – A large group of over 100 birds at 1000 Foot Falls whistled by us as they dove in unison.
VAUX'S SWIFT (RICHMOND'S) (Chaetura vauxi richmondi) – Roughly a dozen birds along the Macul River at Blackrock during our return from El Pilar, flew high above our heads.
LESSER SWALLOW-TAILED SWIFT (Panyptila cayennensis) – Even though there was a nest in the dining area at Blackrock, we still had to look way up to see this fast flying, slender swift going over a couple of times.
Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)
WHITE-NECKED JACOBIN (Florisuga mellivora) – This handsome hummer showed up well at Monkey Bay and also at Blackrock along the road in.
GREEN-BREASTED MANGO (Anthracothorax prevostii) – Great views of a male and immature male at the feeders in Crooked Tree.
RUBY-THROATED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus colubris) – A couple of females were seen at Crooked Tree visiting the feeders.
WEDGE-TAILED SABREWING (Campylopterus curvipennis) – Several adults in the canopy at Blackrock offered us scope views from the parking lot. They also snuck in for sips from the feeders.

Largest of the New World kingfishers, a handsome Ringed Kingfisher perches above the waters of Crooked Tree lagoon. (Photo by guide Peter Burke)

WHITE-BELLIED EMERALD (Amazilia candida) – We picked this species up at Blackrock and Rio Frio Caves.
RUFOUS-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Amazilia tzacatl) – The most common hummer of the trip, found at all locations visited, including a nest at Blackrock.
Trogonidae (Trogons)
SLATY-TAILED TROGON (Trogon massena) – A couple folks had this bird at Blackrock in the area of the cabins. We couldn't pull it in with playback along the main road into the lodge.
BLACK-HEADED TROGON (Trogon melanocephalus) – Great views of an adult at El Pilar; they were also calling at Blackrock most mornings.
GARTERED TROGON (Trogon caligatus) – Formerly lumped with Violaceous Trogon of South America, this species uses that name in Birds of Belize and other field guides. We saw it well along the road into El Pilar and some had it around the Blackrock cabins.
Momotidae (Motmots)
TODY MOTMOT (Hylomanes momotula) – Patience, patience, patience. We played hide and seek for an eternity at El Pilar with a very close adult but an obliging bird at Rio Frio gave us the scope views we wanted!
BLUE-CROWNED MOTMOT (LESSON'S) (Momotus coeruliceps exiguus) – Despite alot of attempts to draw in calling birds we just couldn't get a reaction. On our last morning Colin and the leaders had a pair along the entrance road into Blackrock flush from a gully.
Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)
RINGED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle torquata) – Many of these handsome Kingfishers at Crooked Tree.
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon) – Numerous at Crooked Tree, we also saw this wintering species once at Blackrock.
GREEN KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle americana) – Some wonderful views at Crooked Tree.
AMERICAN PYGMY KINGFISHER (Chloroceryle aenea) – Hard to believe this bird is a Kingfisher but we did have several of them along the shoreline at Crooked Tree. What a cutie!
Bucconidae (Puffbirds)
WHITE-WHISKERED PUFFBIRD (Malacoptila panamensis) – A very cooperative pair along the entrance road into Blackrock. Also heard at Rio Frio.
Galbulidae (Jacamars)
RUFOUS-TAILED JACAMAR (Galbula ruficauda) – Fantastic views near a nesting scrape on the road into El Pilar of a pair.
Ramphastidae (Toucans)
EMERALD TOUCANET (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) – Elvis and John picked up on a calling bird at Rio Frio and brought the pair in to the overhead canopy where great scope views were enjoyed!
COLLARED ARACARI (Pteroglossus torquatus) – Lots of these comical looking toucans at Blackrock and an aggressive encounter with an Acorn Woodpecker at Crooked Tree.
KEEL-BILLED TOUCAN (Ramphastos sulfuratus) – The Blackrock compound was a great place to wait for calling and flying birds to make an appearance. They were somewhat quiet on this trip in appropriate habitat.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)
ACORN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes formicivorus) – Many birds at Crooked Tree and up on the MPR, this species is found in the Pine Savannahs of the country.
BLACK-CHEEKED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pucherani) – A nice pair of these handsome woodpeckers made the fruit platform at Blackrock a regular hangout.
YUCATAN WOODPECKER (Melanerpes pygmaeus) – John skillfully brought in this specialty of the dry Yucatan forests with playback at Crooked Tree. We played cat and mouse for quite some time but eventually were rewarded with some scope views.
GOLDEN-FRONTED WOODPECKER (EAST MEXICO) (Melanerpes aurifrons dubius) – A number of these around Crooked Tree, far outnumbered Yucatan Woodpecker.
SMOKY-BROWN WOODPECKER (Picoides fumigatus) – Great views of a pair along the Monkey Bay road before our lunch at Cheers.
GOLDEN-OLIVE WOODPECKER (Colaptes rubiginosus) – A cooperative bird at the military checkpoint beside the Rio Frio Caves.
LINEATED WOODPECKER (Dryocopus lineatus) – Brief views at the same location as above. We heard this species at a few places but often were distracted by something else!
PALE-BILLED WOODPECKER (Campephilus guatemalensis) – A real show-stopper, we saw these birds well at Blackrock and El Pilar.
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
BARRED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur ruficollis) – A couple of calling birds at Blackrock each morning in the predawn light. [*]
COLLARED FOREST-FALCON (Micrastur semitorquatus) – Also calling at Blackrock in the predawn each morning. [*]
LAUGHING FALCON (Herpetotheres cachinnans) – Great views at Crooked Tree and on the MPR of perched birds.
BAT FALCON (Falco rufigularis) – Crooked Tree offered us the chance to study this bird in detail. It was a good opportunity to get ready for the next species! We also saw it in the second half of the trip.
ORANGE-BREASTED FALCON (Falco deiroleucus) – Belize has about a half dozen nesting pairs of this rare falcon - well above the average density of surrounding countries. We enjoyed the presence of a nesting pair right at Blackrock during our stay. One adult usually was perched near the eyrie on a sheer cliff wall near the lodge.
PEREGRINE FALCON (Falco peregrinus) – John's boat had a Peregrine give chase to a Coot on Crooked Tree lagoon during our boat trip, sending the Coot diving for cover.
Psittacidae (Parrots)
OLIVE-THROATED PARAKEET (AZTEC) (Aratinga nana astec) – A good number of these parakeets around Crooked Tree but also seen on the MPR and El Pilar roads.
WHITE-CROWNED PARROT (Pionus senilis) – Great scope views of this small parrot around Blackrock and flying birds near the villages of San Ignacio and San Antonio.
WHITE-FRONTED PARROT (Amazona albifrons) – We had a few good scope views around Crooked Tree and tried to pull out a Yellow-lored Parrot from the lot. They were also seen en route to El Pilar and around Blackrock.
RED-LORED PARROT (Amazona autumnalis) – An impressive evening flight of this species in the pine forests of Crooked Tree.
YELLOW-HEADED PARROT (Amazona oratrix) – The scarcest of the Amazonas in Belize, we saw this bird well at Crooked Tree both days.
Thamnophilidae (Typical Antbirds)
BARRED ANTSHRIKE (Thamnophilus doliatus) – A pair pulled in well by John's playback at Crooked Tree. Also heard en route to El Pilar and Rio Frio Caves.
DOT-WINGED ANTWREN (Microrhopias quixensis) – Part of the group enjoyed a pair in a mixed species flock at Rio Frio caves.
Formicariidae (Antthrushes)
BLACK-FACED ANTTHRUSH (MEXICAN) (Formicarius analis moniliger) – Despite hearing some birds, including a close approach during our first attempt with Tody Motmot, we didn't connect with this forest floor dweller. [*]
Furnariidae (Ovenbirds and Woodcreepers)

Clown-faced Acorn Woodpeckers are common denizens of Belize's pine savannahs. (Photo by guide Peter Burke)

OLIVACEOUS WOODCREEPER (Sittasomus griseicapillus) – Nice views of this common woodcreeper at Blackrock, El Pilar and Rio Frio.
RUDDY WOODCREEPER (Dendrocincla homochroa) – A close view of a bird at El Pilar. Another was seen at Blackrock our last day.
WEDGE-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Glyphorynchus spirurus) – Some brief but good views of a bird along the road at Blackrock.
IVORY-BILLED WOODCREEPER (Xiphorhynchus flavigaster) – The beautiful song of this woodcreeper was heard a couple of times during the trip. We saw it well in the parking area at Blackrock.
STREAK-HEADED WOODCREEPER (Lepidocolaptes souleyetii) – Pete heard a calling bird at El Pilar as we hunted down the Tody Motmot. [*]
PLAIN XENOPS (Xenops minutus) – Great views of this forest furnariid, hanging like a chickadee at El Pilar and Rio Frio caves trails.
BUFF-THROATED FOLIAGE-GLEANER (Automolus ochrolaemus) – Part of the group had a single bird accompany a mixed species flock at Rio Frio caves.
RUFOUS-BREASTED SPINETAIL (Synallaxis erythrothorax) – This handsome spinetail came right in for fine views at Crooked Tree. We also heard it at Monkey Bay and the road to El Pilar.
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
YELLOW-BELLIED TYRANNULET (Ornithion semiflavum) – The loud voice of this flycatcher made our head crane up as it flitted from tree to tree at Rio Frio caves.
NORTHERN BEARDLESS-TYRANNULET (Camptostoma imberbe) – A single at Crooked Tree sang loudly along the Woodcreeper Trail and showed briefly in the canopy.
GREENISH ELAENIA (Myiopagis viridicata) – Found most days during the trip, starting with a cooperative bird at Crooked Tree that sat low and in the open for extended views.
YELLOW-BELLIED ELAENIA (Elaenia flavogaster) – Heard more than seen every day, we enjoyed this one in the scope at the pine forest in Crooked Tree.
OCHRE-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Mionectes oleagineus) – A singleton at El Pilar was briefly seen while we tried to bring in a Motmot.
SEPIA-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Leptopogon amaurocephalus) – We saw this bird fairly well along the Blackrock road in the middle of a mixed species flock led by Tawny-crowned Greenlets.
NORTHERN BENTBILL (Oncostoma cinereigulare) – One individual at El Pilar had us back and forth over the trail before it sat fairly well for most. It was also heard at Rio Frio.
SLATE-HEADED TODY-FLYCATCHER (Poecilotriccus sylvia) – A pair at Crooked Tree came in nicely to playback and sat just long enough for most to get a good view of this tiny flycatcher.
COMMON TODY-FLYCATCHER (Todirostrum cinereum) – Mainly a species of edge and human inhabited areas, we saw them well around Crooked Tree. It was less common around Blackrock and the MPR.
EYE-RINGED FLATBILL (Rhynchocyclus brevirostris) – Good views at Blackrock along the main road an at Rio Frio caves.
YELLOW-OLIVE FLYCATCHER (Tolmomyias sulphurescens) – Perhaps the winner of the 'dullest bird of the trip' award, but it was seen/heard most days, usually from the canopy.
STUB-TAILED SPADEBILL (Platyrinchus cancrominus) – A very cooperative bird at Rio Frio caves offered plenty of views.
SULPHUR-RUMPED FLYCATCHER (Myiobius sulphureipygius sulphureipygius) – We had a couple of birds at El Pilar and a single at Rio Frio caves.
OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER (Contopus cooperi) – John H. and the leaders had a single from the canopy tower at Blackrock one afternoon.
TROPICAL PEWEE (Contopus cinereus) – A bird usually frequented the parking area at Blackrock. It was also heard at El PIlar.
YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER (Empidonax flaviventris) – Several birds seen during our time at Blackrock, more often heard giving its loud call note.
LEAST FLYCATCHER (Empidonax minimus) – A single at Monkey Bay down near the river.
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans) – Sometimes seen perched on the rocks in the Macul River at Blackrock.
VERMILION FLYCATCHER (Pyrocephalus rubinus) – Plenty of these handsome flycatchers at Crooked Tree. Also seen in the pastures near Blackrock.
BRIGHT-RUMPED ATTILA (Attila spadiceus) – A bulletlike response from a bird at Crooked Tree in the Woodcreeper Trail. It came in close and fast, catching us a bit off-guard! Heard in all locations visited.
YUCATAN FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus yucatanensis) – A single bird at the Woodcreeper Trail at Crooked Tree, giving its inflective whistle and responding to John's playback. It was rather uncooperative and stayed well back most of the time.
DUSKY-CAPPED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus tuberculifer) – A couple of perched birds, namely at Crooked Tree and Monkey Bay.
GREAT CRESTED FLYCATCHER (Myiarchus crinitus) – Pete had a single during our encounter with Black-crowned Tityra at Crooked Tree.

Boat rides on the lagoon were a highlight of our stay at Crooked Tree. Here the group enjoys close up views of a bunch of Wood Storks. (Photo by guide Peter Burke)

GREAT KISKADEE (Pitangus sulphuratus) – Common and widespread, but always impressive!
BOAT-BILLED FLYCATCHER (Megarynchus pitangua) – We heard a couple of birds during the trip but always seemed to have something else to distract us from it. [*]
SOCIAL FLYCATCHER (Myiozetetes similis) – Commonly seen.
TROPICAL KINGBIRD (Tyrannus melancholicus) – Commonly seen at Crooked Tree and in open pastureland.
COUCH'S KINGBIRD (Tyrannus couchii) – John used his experience to 'follow a hunch' about a pair at Crooked Tree that ended up reacting strongly to playback. They were surrounded by many Tropicals there and Belize typically has a ratio of 8:1 so you have to keep looking! Another on the MPR was likely this species.
FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER (Tyrannus savana) – Lovely birds near the airport for part of the group on an arriving shuttle to Crooked Tree, and a bird on the lagoon.
Pipridae (Manakins)
WHITE-COLLARED MANAKIN (Manacus candei) – A male feeding near the cabins at Blackrock and a noisy lek site at El Pilar provided a few stunning views.
RED-CAPPED MANAKIN (Pipra mentalis) – One bird calling at El Pilar wasn't too cooperative but another male at Rio Frio was more obliging to the group.
Tityridae (Tityras and Allies)
BLACK-CROWNED TITYRA (Tityra inquisitor) – This is an uncommon bird throughout the country so we were delighted to find a pair along the Woodcreeper Trail at Crooked Tree!
MASKED TITYRA (Tityra semifasciata) – We were able to put the scope on a male near the parking lot at Blackrock.
BROWN-WINGED SCHIFFORNIS (Schiffornis turdina) – Formerly known as Thrush-like Schiffornis, this bird has been split off and is now known as Brown-winged Schiffornis, or Northern Schiffornis. John pulled a lovely bird out of the understory at El Pilar for prolonged scope views as it sang. Heard at many other sites.
GRAY-COLLARED BECARD (Pachyramphus major) – We encountered this species on the road at Monkey Bay. Not an easy bird to find throughout its range, we were fortunate to come across a single male.
ROSE-THROATED BECARD (Pachyramphus aglaiae) – A couple of nice adult and immature males at Crooked Tree.
Vireonidae (Vireos)
WHITE-EYED VIREO (Vireo griseus) – Singles were seen at most locations during the tour.
MANGROVE VIREO (Vireo pallens) – Fairly vocal and common at Crooked Tree, we had some nice views along the shoreline our first afternoon together.
YELLOW-THROATED VIREO (Vireo flavifrons) – One in the parking lot at Blackrock our first morning.
TAWNY-CROWNED GREENLET (Hylophilus ochraceiceps) – We used some playback to keep a couple of foraging flocks, led by this species, at Blackrock and El Pilar around for a while.
LESSER GREENLET (Hylophilus decurtatus) – This drab forest bird was seen at Blackrock, El Pilar and Rio Frio.
RUFOUS-BROWED PEPPERSHRIKE (Cyclarhis gujanensis) – Great views of a singing male at Crooked Tree as it came into the treetops to investigate some playback.
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
BROWN JAY (Psilorhinus morio) – Seen throughout the tour.
GREEN JAY (Cyanocorax yncas) – Elvis picked out a calling bird en route to El Pilar but it didn't come out for a view. [*]
YUCATAN JAY (Cyanocorax yucatanicus) – We enjoyed some great prolonged views of this species, including a flock of over 25 birds at Crooked Tree during our walk in the forest.
Hirundinidae (Swallows)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) – Seen throughout the tour; a large concentration of birds over pastureland on the road into Blackrock one morning.
GRAY-BREASTED MARTIN (Progne chalybea) – Several of these birds hung around the lodge at Crooked Tree, getting set up for the breeding season after returning from points further south.
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor) – One bird over the lagoon during our boat ride at Crooked Tree.
MANGROVE SWALLOW (Tachycineta albilinea) – Very common at Crooked Tree and also seen along the Macul River at Blackrock.
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica) – A couple of birds on the first day were seen by Charlotte, Beth and John at Crooked Tree.
Troglodytidae (Wrens)
HOUSE WREN (SOUTHERN) (Troglodytes aedon musculus) – Several heard and seen at Crooked Tree and Blackrock.
SPOT-BREASTED WREN (Pheugopedius maculipectus) – Present throughout the tour, we saw this furtive wren in tangles at several sites.
WHITE-BELLIED WREN (Uropsila leucogastra) – Great looks at a bird in the scope at Crooked Tree along the Woodcreeper Trail, and another at Rio Frio caves.
WHITE-BREASTED WOOD-WREN (Henicorhina leucosticta) – A tough bird to see well, we played with a pair at Blackrock. Their loud song was heard also at El Pilar and Rio Frio caves.
Polioptilidae (Gnatcatchers)
LONG-BILLED GNATWREN (Ramphocaenus melanurus) – Some decent views at El Pilar of a bird that came in close.
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea) – Seen in small numbers at Crooked Tree, Monkey Bay and Blackrock.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
WOOD THRUSH (Hylocichla mustelina) – One bird hung around the cabins at Blackrock. It was also heard and seen at El Pilar.
CLAY-COLORED THRUSH (Turdus grayi) – Common in pasturelands and near towns throughout the tour.
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
GRAY CATBIRD (Dumetella carolinensis) – A couple were observed at Crooked Tree, Monkey Bay and Blackrock.
TROPICAL MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus gilvus) – Seen throughout the tour, this was the first bird in Belize for many.
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
OVENBIRD (Seiurus aurocapilla) – One hung around the Blackrock cabins.
WORM-EATING WARBLER (Helmitheros vermivorum) – Seen with forest flocks at El Pilar, Blackrock and Rio Frio caves.
LOUISIANA WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia motacilla) – A brightly marked bird at the shoreline of the river at Blackrock gave great scope views.
NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH (Parkesia noveboracensis) – Commonly heard and less frequently seen throughout the tour.
BLUE-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora cyanoptera) – One at Rio Frio caves with a mixed canopy flock.
GOLDEN-WINGED WARBLER (Vermivora chrysoptera) – One female at Rio Frio caves with a mixed canopy flock.
BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (Mniotilta varia) – Widespread and common throughout the trip.
PROTHONOTARY WARBLER (Protonotaria citrea) – One male along the creek while we watched the Agami Herons at Crooked Tree.
SWAINSON'S WARBLER (Limnothlypis swainsonii) – Beth, Charlotte and John had one along the Woodcreeper trail at Crooked Tree the day before we started the tour.
GRAY-CROWNED YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis poliocephala) – A single in the pastures along the road into Blackrock.
KENTUCKY WARBLER (Geothlypis formosa) – A lovely male foraged around the buildings at Blackrock.
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT (Geothlypis trichas) – A few around Crooked Tree.
HOODED WARBLER (Setophaga citrina) – A couple of males at Blackrock, El Pilar and Rio Frio caves.
AMERICAN REDSTART (Setophaga ruticilla) – Widespread and common throughout the tour.
NORTHERN PARULA (Setophaga americana) – Up to 4 birds present at Crooked Tree.
MAGNOLIA WARBLER (Setophaga magnolia) – Widespread and common throughout the trip.
YELLOW WARBLER (Setophaga petechia) – Numerous birds seen at Crooked Tree.
CHESTNUT-SIDED WARBLER (Setophaga pensylvanica) – A couple of birds were seen most days during the trip.
PALM WARBLER (Setophaga palmarum) – Several birds seen at Crooked Tree by John, Beth and Charlotte.
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (Setophaga coronata) – A good number of sightings of this bird at Crooked Tree, which is at the southern limit of its wintering range.
YELLOW-THROATED WARBLER (Setophaga dominica) – Beautiful adults at Crooked Tree and Blackrock.
GRACE'S WARBLER (Setophaga graciae) – Several adults at 1000 Ft. Falls on the MPR.
BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER (Setophaga virens) – Seen daily during our stay at Blackrock.
RUFOUS-CAPPED WARBLER (Basileuterus rufifrons) – Two birds came in nicely to playback at 1000 Ft. Falls on the MPR.
GOLDEN-CROWNED WARBLER (Basileuterus culicivorus) – We found this bird several days during our trips in and around Blackrock.
WILSON'S WARBLER (Cardellina pusilla) – A couple of birds around Blackrock.
YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens) – Colin had one in Crooked Tree and another flitted across the road at Monkey Bay while we were being entertained by Honeycreepers.
Thraupidae (Tanagers and Allies)
BLACK-THROATED SHRIKE-TANAGER (Lanio aurantius) – Wonderful views of a male and female at Rio Frio caves. These are leaders of canopy foraging flocks, so seeing these led to a flurry of other species.
BLUE-GRAY TANAGER (Thraupis episcopus) – Seen most days around Blackrock.
YELLOW-WINGED TANAGER (Thraupis abbas) – Daily sightings during our stay at Blackrock and during lunch at Cheers.
GOLDEN-HOODED TANAGER (Tangara larvata) – Two stunning adults at Monkey Bay were a nice treat for the eyes!
RED-LEGGED HONEYCREEPER (Cyanerpes cyaneus) – Commonly seen at Blackrock and sites we visited during our stay. Some males had already molted into full breeding plumage.
BLUE-BLACK GRASSQUIT (Volatinia jacarina) – A single male in the pastures along the road leading into Blackrock one morning.
WHITE-COLLARED SEEDEATER (WHITE-COLLARED) (Sporophila torqueola morelleti) – Abundant at Crooked Tree and seen most days of the trip, mostly in pasturelands.
YELLOW-FACED GRASSQUIT (Tiaris olivaceus) – A few birds were seen during the second part of the trip, from our transfer day onwards.
GRAYISH SALTATOR (Saltator coerulescens) – Although we heard this loud songster several times, we were always distracted by something else we were watching! [*]
BLACK-HEADED SALTATOR (Saltator atriceps) – Several sightings of these noisy second growth inhabitants during the week.
Emberizidae (Buntings and New World Sparrows)
ORANGE-BILLED SPARROW (Arremon aurantiirostris) – Wonderful views of a bird at Monkey Bay that circled us for 5 minutes in the understory.
GREEN-BACKED SPARROW (Arremonops chloronotus) – A couple of birds at Blackrock and El Pilar, singing their sweet songs.
RUSTY SPARROW (Aimophila rufescens) – Persistance paid off with fine views of a perched bird on the MPR.
CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina) – Beth and Charlotte spotted one at a gas stop in the pine savannah en route to Blackrock.
Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)
HEPATIC TANAGER (Piranga flava) – A fine male at 1000 Ft. Falls on the MPR, plus a pair at the Military stop near Rio Frio caves.
SUMMER TANAGER (Piranga rubra) – Widespread during the tour, more often heard than seen.
RED-THROATED ANT-TANAGER (Habia fuscicauda) – The scolding notes of this understory bird gave its presence away several times at Blackrock, El Pilar and Rio Frio caves, and we got some nice looks eventually.
BLACK-FACED GROSBEAK (Caryothraustes poliogaster) – A trio of birds at Rio Frio caves came in for great looks just before we had the Tody Motmot.
NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis) – A male in the pine savannah of Crooked Tree, seemingly out of place this far south!
GRAY-THROATED CHAT (Granatellus sallaei) – John skillfully brought in a splendid male at Crooked Tree which offered perfect viewing.
BLUE-BLACK GROSBEAK (Cyanocompsa cyanoides) – The loud song of this bird was often heard at Blackrock but we just couldn't entice it to come out for look.
BLUE GROSBEAK (Passerina caerulea) – A couple of males along the road on the MPR.
PAINTED BUNTING (Passerina ciris) – Mary had a male in the parking lot at Blackrock one afternoon.
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus) – A few males at Crooked Tree, feeding on the lawn. These are long and finer billed birds than we see in North America and permanent residents.
EASTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella magna) – Another permanent resident that looks and sounds a bit odd compared to what we see in North America. Keep this one in mind for future taxonomic splits...
MELODIOUS BLACKBIRD (Dives dives) – Common and widespread throughout, giving its loud 'what-CHEER!' song.
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus) – Seen daily.
BLACK-COWLED ORIOLE (Icterus prosthemelas) – A splendid adult male at Blackrock and Crooked Tree.
ORCHARD ORIOLE (Icterus spurius) – Common wintering bird at Crooked Tree, less so around Blackrock.
HOODED ORIOLE (Icterus cucullatus) – A brilliant male at Crooked Tree visiting the feeders.
YELLOW-TAILED ORIOLE (Icterus mesomelas) – We heard a singing bird at Monkey Bay down at the river.
BALTIMORE ORIOLE (Icterus galbula) – Common at the feeders in Crooked Tree and seen almost daily.
YELLOW-BILLED CACIQUE (Amblycercus holosericeus) – We all saw this skulker along the shores at Crooked Tree during our boat trip.
MONTEZUMA OROPENDOLA (Psarocolius montezuma) – Several were seen in a group on the drive into Blackrock and around the lodge grounds.
Fringillidae (Siskins, Crossbills, and Allies)
YELLOW-THROATED EUPHONIA (Euphonia hirundinacea) – A swarm of these seemed to live near the fruit trays at Blackrock.
OLIVE-BACKED EUPHONIA (Euphonia gouldi) – This less colorful Euphonia also loved to visit the fruit trays at Blackrock. We also had birds at El Pilar and Rio Frio caves.
BLACK-HEADED SISKIN (Spinus notatus) – A beautiful pair of birds at 1000 Ft. Falls feeding in the pine trees. This is not an easy bird to find throughout its range.

YUCATAN HOWLER MONKEY (Alouatta pigra) – A youngster sitting in the trees at the Woodcreeper Trail at Crooked Tree. We also heard a few in the mornings at Blackrock.
YUCATAN SQUIRREL (Sciurus yucatanensis) – A few seen in the forests through the trip.
WHITE-NOSED COATI (Nasua narica) – Micheal, our local guide, had a quick glimpse of one at Crooked Tree our last morning but it dissolved into the forest.
GREATER GRISON (Galictis vittata) – One that stumbled into us along the edge of the forest along the Blackrock road was quickly surprised and bolted off over a slope out of view.


Totals for the tour: 250 bird taxa and 4 mammal taxa